Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mitigation, adaptation and misery

Facing climate change we have a choice between mitigation, adaptation and misery. Mitigation is cheaper than adaptation, which is preferable to misery. Likelihood is we’ll get all three but the ratios are for us to decide.

In our lives we are happy to pay for mitigation, we try to prevent fires with smoke alarms and ceiling sprinklers and if your house catches on fire you call the fire brigade who, funded by your taxes, puts out the fire, that’s mitigation. Adaptation would be to let the fire burn, hope you can adapt to the outcome and rebuild from the wreckage. Misery is when you can’t afford to rebuild and have to live in the wreckage.

Right now the world is smouldering and a fire has broken out in the arctic, the attic of the world. If you set your attic on fire, you wouldn’t say, “hey don’t worry it’s still nice and cool in the basement”. Nor would you say “well fires have occurred naturally in the past so even if I did cause this one it’s nothing to worry about”, you’d call the fire engines. It’s time we did the same for the planet.

With thanks to John Holdren science advisor to Pres Obama and Dr Jeff Masters who had these ideas first

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